Pretty cool article.
The Straits Times ( Singapore )
November 26, 2008 Wednesday
Strike Eagle with zero combat defeats
David Boey, For The Straits Times
ST LOUIS ( Missouri ): America 's oldest fighter aircraft factory has started rolling out its deadliest warplanes - F-15SG Strike Eagles that will one day guard Singapore 's skies.
The acquisition of 24 F-15SG multi-role fighters for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is a multimillion-dollar project on which the sun, literally, never sets.
Much of the action takes place within the fence line of a sprawling aircraft factory in St Louis , Missouri , run by Boeing, the American aerospace and defence giant.
Inside massive aircraft assembly plants flanking the runways at Lambert-St Louis International Airport , Boeing's F-15 factory operates round-the-clock, staffed by three shifts of workers who produce an F-15SG every 36 months.
Boeing's workers continue a proud tradition of aerospace engineering that has produced more than 11,000 fighter aircraft in St Louis since 1939. Among them: war planes flown in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, assorted wars in the Middle East and in the skies over former Yugoslavia.
The 69-year-old fighter factory, then operated by McDonnell Douglas, built so many fighter aircraft in the 1980s - the period when F-15s, F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harrier II jump jets were produced - that it was dubbed Fighterland USA.
The F-15SG's assembly process is a blend of cutting edge defence technology and time-tested manufacturing processes that date back decades. Each Strike Eagle is assembled by hand by experienced tradesmen and women whose average age is 50.
Gazing upon the assembly line is a giant poster, about half the size of a badminton court, that shows an F-15E Strike Eagle with an imposing range of guided missiles, bombs and rockets arrayed in front of the warplane. The punch line reads: 'Wanna come out and play?'
Boeing's workers are immensely proud of the fact that 'their' F-15 fighter jets have chalked up an unrivalled aerial combat score of 104 victories to zero defeats in 30 years of air battles around the globe. The F-15 Eagle's prey include pilots who over-estimated their prowess or had misplaced faith in the combat capabilities of their aircraft.
But rhetoric alone will not protect Singapore . This is why air warfare planners from the RSAF's Air Combat Command (ACC) are determined to deliver a warplane that can meet and defeat current and anticipated air threats to Singapore 's security.
Less publicised, yet no less important are contributions from Singapore 's Defence Science and Technology Agency, which assesses and guides arms purchases, and defence scientists at DSO National Laboratories, which runs Singapore 's largest defence research and development labs. Close coordination between the RSAF's operational needs and the technical know-how of some 5,000 Ministry of Defence engineers and scientists has produced a warplane which even Boeing acknowledges is the deadliest of the breed.
Mr Mark Bass, vice-president of Boeing's F-15 programme, said: 'The government and people of Singapore can be proud that they have acquired a modern, extremely capable and affordable weapon system that will counter not only today's threats but also any threats that may emerge far into the future.'
Boeing was coy about describing the modifications made to the F-15SG. Mr Brad Korte, the F-15SG programme manager, went only as far as saying a 'major redesign' was introduced to allow the F-15SG to pack 25 per cent more air-conditioning capacity than previous designs in the F-15 family.
Mind you, stronger air-conditioning is not meant for the comfort of the pilot and weapon system officer, who sits in the F-15SG's back seat and helps the pilot track and destroy enemy targets. Improved cooling allows installation of electronic equipment to help the Strike Eagle detect, identify, engage and shoot down its rivals.
Meanwhile, further north in Idaho, a detachment of RSAF personnel at the United States Air Force's Mountain Home Air Force Base are getting the RSAF's F-15SG training detachment, codenamed Peace Carvin V, ready for action around April next year. That's when the RSAF will take delivery of its first F-15SGs for an intensive work-up period in Idaho . In the vast training areas over Idaho , Peace Carvin V will allow RSAF air and ground crew the opportunity to acquire skills needed to wield the Strike Eagles.
Meanwhile, the RSAF's F-15SG project team in Singapore is working out a timetable to ensure the squadron's pilots, weapon system officers and ground crew will be fully combat-capable by the time the first Strike Eagle arrives in Singapore some time in 2010.
Though the delivery timeline is tight, the F-15SG project team took time off to mark the roll-out of the first F-15SG, dubbed SG-1, at a ceremony in St Louis early this month. It was standing room only at Boeing's Aircraft Delivery Service Centre as guests crowded a hangar for the first public showing of SG-1. The sleek grey warplane, fully loaded with air-to-air missiles and sensors, looked poised and deadly even on the ground.
The two-hour-long event was a mere formality: SG-1 had been 'rolled out' of the factory weeks earlier and made a 90-minute-long maiden flight on Sept 16. Three F-15SGs have flown thus far and SG-4 is in an advanced stage of assembly.
The next milestone for the project includes dispatching some 80 RSAF groundcrew to St Louis next March to study how to operate, maintain and arm the fighter.
Mr Bobby Deadmond, a manager on the F-15 assembly line, recalled how he and his co-workers swelled with pride whenever they read about how F-15s prevailed in aerial battles around the world.
Each F-15 roll-out is akin to 'having a baby', said the father of three.
'You're sweating, you're pacing the floor...generally very excited that another F-15 has been completed.'
He said: 'It makes us feel proud that we built and produced something that works and performs as well as the F-15 does.'
The writer was this newspaper's defence correspondent.
Pretty cool article.
1. Singapore has 24, F-15SG on order and the new technologies included are, as follows:
1.1 The AN/APG-63(V)3 low probability of intercept AESA radar with its ability to transmit waveforms that change from burst to burst (a technology derived from the "5th Generation" aircraft). This means that the AESA radar changing signal is very difficult for an enemy aircraft to detect.
1.2 If an enemy aircraft does manage to detect the signal, it must then try to get a radar lock on. The AN/APG-63(V)3 radar of the F-15SG analyzes the enemy's radar and sends out a jamming burst to disrupt the lock. The radar then goes on to other tasks until the enemy radar begins its lock cycle again. But the AESA radar is not intended to give the F-15SG a "standoff jamming" capability by itself.
1.3 The F-15SG will be equipped with the Sniper ATP targeting pod (A generation beyond the Litening Advanced Targeting pod) that can acquire targets at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet. The superior detection range keep the F-15SG out of range of threat air defenses. The Sniper ATP targeting pod has:
(i) a modernized laser system,
(ii) an improved FLIR imager, plus a CCD TV imager;
(iii) improved stabilization systems;
(iv)an up-to-date computer system;
(v) an automatic target recognition system;
(vi) a laser spot tracker; and
(vii) a night vision goggle (NVG) compatible laser marker.
1.4 The F-15SG Strike Eagles come with conformal fuel tanks and are powered by the F110-GE-129 turbofans - with 29,000 lbs of thrust (like the ROKAF F-15Ks) and fitted with a Link 16 digital data link; radios, IFF, and navigation gear.
1.5 The Straits Times, on 3 Nov 2008 also reported the the F-15SG carries an Electronic Warfare suite, but in typical Singapore style, the specific EW suite is not confirmed. Online rumors suggest that the F-15SG incorporates some technology supplied by Israel.
1.6 The acquisition of the F-15SG is managed by Singapore's DSTA (as program manager). It includes a US$200 m and a US$962 m support package announced in Aug 2007 and July 2008, respectively. These include flight training, software development/integration, modification kits, spares, repair parts, logistics and missiles (including the AIM120C-5/7, the JDAMs, the JSOW and the AIM 9X).
1.7 The F-15SG gives the Singapore air force improved capabilities in terms of:
(i) more time on station;
(ii) an increase in combat radius; and
(iii) an improved informational awareness of the electronic order of battle.
2. The Singapore air force also has the most technologically advanced air force in ASEAN.
2.1 Singapore operates over 62 F-16C/Ds (including 20 block 52+ F-16Ds) and 4 x E-2C Hawkeye AWACs (acquired in 1987). This includes:
(i) 7 squadrons of frontline fighter aircraft. Currently 3 squadrons are equipped with the F-16C/Ds; and
(ii) the F-15SGs (and the block 52+ F-16Ds - purchased in 2004) were purchased to replace 2 of Singapore's A4SU Super Skyhawk fighter-bomber squadrons.
2.2 To ensure that the Singapore fighter pilots are the best trained in ASEAN, the Singapore air force takes part in the following types of training:
(i) Dissimilar air combat training (DACT) at Red flag (in the US), Maple Flag (in Canada), Pitch Back (in Australia) and with the Indian Air force. Increasingly, Singapore uses DACTs, to expose its squadron leaders to the role of "mission commanders" - giving these young MAJs the opportunity to plan in coalition warfare (with 50 aircraft on each mission); and
(ii) the Singapore air force also conducts Alternate Runway Exercises every 5-6 years or so. The latest of the series will be conducted this Sunday. In the Alternate Runway Exercises, Singapore air force's fighters and one E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft performed a total of twenty takeoffs, touch-and-go maneuvers, and landings on a highway within eighteen minutes.Originally Posted by guy from another forum
2.3 Singapore has also announced that the E-2C Hawkeye AWACs will be replaced by the G550 CAEW (made by Israel) in 2010, ensuring the Singapore air force keeps its technological edge. Singapore and Israel are Security Cooperative Participation partners, the lowest tier in the the F-35 program, which signals its intention to acquire the F-35 in future.
2.4 Australian defence analyst Desmond Ball had stated that Singapore has "the most advanced electronic warfare capability in Southeast Asia." This should come as no surprise, as Singapore's Defence Science organization first set up an electronic warfare research unit in 1972, under the code name "Project Magpie".
2.5 IMHO, the goal of the Singapore air force is to render any notional opponent deaf and blind via electronic warefare and strike at them from a far. At a seminar in Feb 2007, Singapore's chief defence scientist stated that Singapore's goal was to:
(i) acquire capability rather than hardware; and
(ii) to invest in key technologies that ensure a clear lead.
3. Moving beyond the 'poisonous shrimp' strategy for Singapore:
3.1 You might want to ask, why does Singapore take defence so seriously. Singapore takes defence seriously because of its unique circumstances. Tim Huxley in Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore accurately describes Singapore's lack of strategic depth and its unfavorable circumstances viz. a viz. its much bigger neighbours. He also details without prejudice the difficult diplomatic relationship between Singapore and Malaysia.
3.2 There is a difficult relationship between Singapore and Malaysia because:
(i) a number of Malaysian politicians have advocated the unilateral cutting off of Singapore's water supply (in violation of international law), whenever there is a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia;
(ii) the former PM of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad is featured on YouTube suggesting that Malaysia had purchased MIGs so that the MAF can bomb Singapore (without any restrictions from the Americans - who supply the teen series fighters to both Singapore and Malaysia);
(iii) various Malay bloggers (fronting extreme Malay Muslim chauvinistic sentiments) have suggested that Malaysia purchased the Astros II MLRS to enable the MAF to launch a pre-emptive strike at Singapore's civilian population - so as to ensure that Singapore knows it place and that it should follows the lead of the UMNO led Malaysian government; and
(iv) the Malaysian government using false concerns about "air space sovereignty" to deny Singapore SAR helicopters, legitimate access to pass through Malaysian air space (when a request is made to Malaysian air traffic control) so that the Singapore air force may proceed onwards to the South China sea to conduct "search and rescue" missions in aid of sailors and others in distress.
3.3 According to a The Straits Times article dated 1 July 2008, David Boey notes that:Originally Posted by David Boey
3.4 Tim Huxley believes that Singapore may intervene in Malaysia if there is again another incident of wide spread communal violence in Malaysia leading to a water cut off. IMHO, Singapore will only react to acts of war, such as, a cut-off in the water supply (from Johor) or bombs going off in Singapore.
3.5 Tim Huxley chronicles the evolution of Singapore's strategy. In the early years, Singapore used the analogy of a 'poisonous shrimp' (small but indigestible by predators) to define its military strategy. The idea was that any aggressor would find that the costs of attempting to invade and occupy Singapore outweighed any conceivable benefits. By the 1990s, the emphasis it grew from a 'poisonous shrimp' to enabling the SAF to achieve a 'swift and decisive victory' over aggressors, though in official statements Singapore has never referred to the SAF's offensive strategy. This was because the 'poisonous shrimp' strategy was deficient in that it merely offered Singapore a choice of 'suicide or surrender'.
3.6 According to Tim Huxley, "the key to understanding Singapore's strategy, is that the SAF's clear capability to inflict severe damage on Malaysia (by implication creating serious political and economic repercussions for Singapore) is not intended to be used. The capability is a deterrent - a sort of regional 'doomsday machine' intended to manipulate Singapore's regional threat environment by forcing neigbouring states to treat the city state with a degree of respect and caution which might otherwise be absent."
Last edited by sunnyamy; 29 Nov 08, at 17:53.
Strike Eagles - Great planes. Maybe the USAF should consider ordering some more... I wonder what the cost per plane is for the F-15SG compared to a F-22? In terms of air to air performance, I'm assuming the F-22 is superior. How close does the F-15SG come to matching the F-22 in the air to air role? Any ideas?
Its not even close. The US will not buy Strike Eagles for an air to air role. We use them for air to ground, with self-defense capability.
It is similar to the F-15C, but not quite as capable. Close enough, really...but the pilots train primarily for air-to-ground, so that's the biggest source of disparity.
The USAF won't bother buying more air-to-air F-15s...they dont want them. The F-22 really IS that much better. There will be F-15Cs around for a very long time...they're already 30 years old, but unless Congress authorizes a lot more Raptors, the AF is going to have to spend a stupid amount of money to keep the F-15s up to date, just to maintain a fighter fleet. 180 planes is flat out not enough. The F-15s will pick up some of the slack.
(i) there is a different focus in the F-15E (Strike Eagle) pilot training programme. The F-15E carries a WSO, for the bomb-truck role (the USAF concept is: To fly in and bomb, then fight on the way out); and
(ii) AFAIK, the Strike Eagle has certain differences in its air frame compared to the F-15C. Essentially, the Strike Eagle air frame is stronger and a little larger but at the sacrifice of handling. However, that is not to say that the Strike Eagle is a poor dog fighter - it can still pull 9Gs in turns.
The RSAF has a different concept of operations from the USAF. It's a small to medium sized air force, so multi-role training is more important. The RSAF pilots are now training in the US (to learn how to effectively deploy the F-15SG).
(i) Modern BVR combat (with AESA radar and the AIM-120 AMRAAM), don't make dog fighting obsolete, they just make it less likely. The A2A combat ability of the Strike Eagle is excellent (compared to the F-16s) because of their higher thrust and their ability to carry a larger amount of A2A stores.
(ii) The Su-30 air frame is specifically designed to be more maneuverable, to counter the F-15 and can out-turn the Strike Eagle. The Strike Eagle derives most of its advantage from it's low probability of intercept AESA radar and it's advanced BVR missile, to give the RSAF/USAF the "see first, shoot first" advantage. Beyond the AESA radar see first advantage - AWACs play an important role in BVR combat, to enable the F-15s to intercept the Su-30 at a good shooting position, altitude and speed (to ensure that the Su-30 is in a no-escape zone).
(iii) The AIM-120C7 AMRAAM is a BVR missile with a "home-on-jam" mode, increasing the missile's Pk (the rival R-77 BVR missile's Pk cannot be verified by open source materials - so no effective comparison can be made there).
(iv) With off-bore-sight, high agility missiles (like the Aim-9x and Python), WVR dog fighting becomes much more lethal. WVR weapons become equalizers between highly maneuverable aircraft and less maneuverable competitors. Here the RSAF/USAF, strives to maintain the edge in WVR combat via the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.
(v) In WVR combat, the capabilities of the ESM and Jammers carried become very important. Online rumors suggest that the F-15SG incorporates some technology supplied by Israeli, including possibly the Elbit SPS-2100 Integrated Electronic Warfare System. The 25% increase in air-conditioning capacity in the F-15SG compared to the F-15E is a reflection of the RSAF's concern.
Last edited by sunnyamy; 30 Nov 08, at 08:05.
Thank you Jimmy and Sunnyamy for the info. I remember when F-15E's first deployed in Op Desert Shield/Storm - always thought they were mean lookin' birds...
Another question... If the USAF will continue flying older model F-15C's in large numbers and those aircraft progressively get older and more maintenance intensive (and thus cost more to operate), wouldn't it make sense (that is be cheaper) to restart the F-15C lines and buy new aircraft? Since the USAF will not or can not buy enough F-22 Raptors to meet their requirements and our current F-15C's are getting old, why not retire the oldest C's and order up some new ones to bridge the 'fighter gap'? Is the air force just holding out for the massive buy of F-35's? Isn't the F-35 supposed to be a stealthy 'bomb truck' and suck at A2A?
Thanks again for the info
The new model F-15's (SG, K, S) are the western counterpart to the newer SU-30MK variations, sold to the more US inclined nations.
A long range fighter with true multi-role capability...
As pointed out by sunnyamy, the Sukhoi's are the more manouverable plane,
missile loadout advantage for either is debatable,
speed, weight, size, payload & service ceiling comparable...
So the question comes down to radar & targeting pods...
The new F-15 radar of choice looks to be the AN/APG-63(v3).
The new sukhoi radar version of choice will be the Irbis-E.
The Irbis probably has more raw power (up to 20 kilowatts), but is PESA:
The AN/APG-63(v3) is an AESA, but am not sure of capabilities.Max Detection Range 400 km (216 nm) target RCS = 3 sqm, Max Engagement Range 150 km (81 nm), Small Air Target Detection Range 90 km (49 nm) target RCS = 0.01 sqm
Other: Engaged Aerial Targets 8 with RVV-AE missiles or two with semi-active guidance missiles, Tracked Aerial Targets 30
(probably similar, but with advantage in avoiding detection & more resistant to jamming?)
The newer F-15's have the Sniper targeting pod.
The Sukhoi's use the LITENING targeting pod.
Sniper is better?
The newer F-15's are almost twice the price as the Sukhoi's
(around $55 million compared to around $100 million ?).
That is why the French and Russians are in a hurry to develop their own AESA radar. So besides the US, the French will be the next country to have AESA equipped radar in their Dassault Rafale fighters in the 2010 - 2012 time frame.
The LITENING targeting pod is very capable and has been purchased by the Australians from their F-18s. They did this for cost reasons - the LITENING is cheaper than the Sniper ATP and is considered current generation technology (i.e. good enough).
Most Su-30s do not use the the LITENING targeting pod. IIRC only the Su-30MKI (used by the Indians) uses the LITENING targeting pod. The Malaysian Su-30MKM for example, uses French avionics and targeting systems. I do not know what the Chinese use in their Su-30.
Last edited by sunnyamy; 01 Dec 08, at 06:56.
In relation to my above response, there is no intention to be rude. It's just that I'm sure a senior US based forum member is in a better position to answer.
In the current USAF plans -
(i) 224x F-15E's are funded for radar upgrades; and
(ii) 178x F-15C aircraft are funded for radar upgrades.
The F-35A is designed to replace the F-16C/D. Would you call the F-16 a bomb truck that sucks at A2A? I don't think so. Please don't be mislead by various unreliable online sources - who have their own agenda.
Other than the US, all other US allied countries are not allowed by US law to buy the F-22. Currently, US allied countries are scheduled to buy the F-35As and F35Bs. The F-35C is designed for the USN, to replace the F-18 Hornet [Edit:Super Hornet deleted].
Coupled with USAF orders, the F-35 production run will be the largest in the world for a new fighter.
On the advice of the Singapore defense science organization, the RSAF paid $50 million to join the queue to buy the F-35. The F-35 will be our next future frontline fighter, when we are eligible to receive it. It would represent a huge advance in our capabilities.
So, please don't tell the Singapore defense science organization (acting as procurement managers) that they are stupid and uninformed. Because that's what you imply, when you say the F-35 sucks at A2A.
Last edited by sunnyamy; 01 Dec 08, at 07:03.
But the cost of a new Eagle would be $70-80 million or so. To build a plane designed in the 60s, that is nearing the limit of how much it can be upgraded, and will likely face more advanced aircraft in the future. Sure, maintaining them will be cheaper than keeping the old airframes flying, but the purchase cost is enormous, considering its an almost obsolete design (this really pains me to say).
It would be like buying new P-51s in 1950...yeah, its a great plane and its done great things, but in the next war its going to have a real hard time.
The F-35 is a replacement for the F-16, not the F-15. Its primarily air-to-ground, but with a solid air-to-air capability as well. F-16 pilots train for air-to-air quite a bit...from what I've seen I think they train to it a lot more than F-15Es.
Last edited by Jimmy; 30 Nov 08, at 17:19.
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